What is the color when black is burned? Neil Young offered us this riddle in 1969 and I’ve been pondering it ever since. Does it eventually condense and turn into “Colored Rain” so wonderfully expressed by Steve Winwood or perhaps more specifically into Prince’s iconic” Purple Rain”? Only Neil knows the answer but last checked, I believe the answer appears to be dark black. But could there be another color? Or is this really a question about colors? Some have interpreted the lyric to really be more of a statement about emotions and the heartbreak of love.
What does it mean? I need takers on this one.
One thing I do know is that where there’s smoke, there’s color. The color of smoke can say a lot about what's burning. It can also tell rescue and search parties where to look when someone is lost. Some of the common colors are black and white but there can be colors of orange, red, yellow and green.
Many wildfires contain color blends of orange, red and yellow. This could be in part because of the fiery sparks intertwining and blowing through the smoke. Another reason that smoke contains color is because of burning metals. Metals burn off color. Another fun way to see the different colors that smoke can be is to light up fireworks such as the popular smoke bomb. Fireworks can also burn white or black smoke. Check out the color of smoke from sparklers and black snakes.
If you get lost in the country what color of smoke will get you noticed? The answer is black. A large cloud of black smoke continuously rising into the sky is a sign that something is burning especially in forestry, park, and lakeside settings where there are many trees and underbrush. A person lost should burn black smoke in the day then switch to white smoke at night.
What kinds of things burn off black smoke? Plastic garbage bags, tires, rubber, oil, petroleum products, paint and paint thinners. Most chemicals will burn black that's why house fires billow out dark smoke. In the same fashion that's why most house trash will burn black. If you need to build an emergency fire to signal for help you can burn your rubber tennis shoes to make black smoke. Some things will burn white and then black. Take for instance a candle it will burn off white smoke until you blow it out and then the smoke turns black.
Now put that in your pipe and smoke it! It feels like colored rain, tastes like colored rain, bring on colored rain!